Date of Award

8-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Anson Long

Second Advisor

Maureen C. McHugh

Third Advisor

Derek R. Hatfield

Abstract

The current study examined a computer-driven intervention utilizing I-sharing (i.e., shared subjective experience) to reduce alcohol use intentions among participants. Specifically, this study sought to test whether I-sharing could foster affiliative motivation and lead participants to socially tune their alcohol use intentions to those of a faux interaction partner. The sample consisted of 199 undergraduate students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. After completing a pre-intervention measure of their intention to drink alcohol, participants were “matched” with a faux partner and randomly assigned to an I-sharing condition, no I-sharing condition, or no information condition. After undergoing the I-sharing manipulation, participants rated their liking for and perceived similarity with their interaction partner. Participants wrote a testimonial to their partner about their alcohol use, and then read a testimonial that indicated that their partner did not drink alcohol. Finally, they completed a post-intervention measure of their intention to drink alcohol, as well as measures of their attitudes towards alcohol and those who do not drink alcohol. Participants were invited to complete an online follow-up two weeks after their study date. Seventeen participants completed the follow-up. These participants were asked to report their use of alcohol since the study date and to rate their attitudes towards alcohol and those who do not drink alcohol. Replicating previous research, the I-sharing manipulation increased liking and feelings of similarity with the partner. However, results for the alcohol-related intentions and attitudes measures did not confirm predictions. Participants in the I-sharing condition did not report greater decreases in their intention to drink alcohol compared to the other conditions. Instead, the intention to drink alcohol was reduced across the conditions. Furthermore, no differences were found between the conditions regarding attitudes. Unfortunately, the sample size of the follow-up was not large enough to draw meaningful conclusions. These results indicate that I-sharing may not have led to the social tuning of alcohol use intentions. However, the intervention was successful at decreasing alcohol use intentions across the conditions. This finding raises important questions about which element(s) of the procedure were responsible for the results. Multiple possibilities are explored in the Discussion.

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